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Animal Ghosts Or, Animal Hauntings and the Hereafter

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Author Topic: Animal Ghosts Or, Animal Hauntings and the Hereafter  (Read 475 times)
Spirits of the Dead
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« Reply #120 on: November 01, 2009, 02:34:00 am »

A large quarry, half full of water and partly overgrown with brambles, riveted my attention, and as I gazed fixedly at it I saw, or fancied I saw, the shape of something large and white—vividly white—rise from the bottom.

The glimpse I caught of it was, however, only momentary, for we were moving along at a great pace, and I had hardly seen the last of it before the quarry was left behind and we were descending a long and gradual declivity. There was but little wind, but the cold was benumbing; neither of us spoke, and the silence was unbroken save by the monotonous patter, patter of the horse's hoofs on the hard road.

We were, I should say, about half-way down the hill, when away in our rear, from the direction of the quarry, came a loud protracted neigh. I at once looked round, and saw standing on the crest of the eminence we had just quitted, and most vividly outlined against the enveloping darkness, a gigantic horse, white and luminous.
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« Reply #121 on: November 01, 2009, 02:34:19 am »

At that moment our own mare took fright; we were abruptly swung forward, and, had I not—mindful of the Colonel's warning—been "sitting tight," I should undoubtedly have been thrown out. We dashed downhill at a terrific rate, our mare mad with terror, and on peering over my shoulder I saw, to my horror, the white steed tearing along not fifty yards behind us. I was now able to get a vivid impression of the monstrous beast. Although the night was dark, a strong, lurid glow, which seemed to emanate from all over it, enabled me to see distinctly its broad, muscular breast; its panting, steaming flanks; its long, graceful legs with their hairy fetlocks and shoeless, shining hoofs; its powerful but arched back; its lofty, colossal head with waving forelock and broad, massive forehead; its snorting nostrils; its distended, foaming jaws; its huge, glistening teeth; and its lips, wreathed in a savage grin. On and on it raced, its strides prodigious, its mighty mane rising and falling, and blowing all around it in unrestrained confusion.

A slip—a single slip, and we should be entirely at its mercy.

Our own horse was now out of control. A series of violent plunges, which nearly succeeded in unseating me, had enabled her to get the check of the bit between her teeth so as to render it utterly useless; and she had then started off at a speed I can only liken to flying. Fortunately we were now on a more or less level ground, and the road, every inch of which our horse knew, was smooth and broad.

I glanced at the Colonel convulsively clutching the reins; he was clinging to his seat for dear life, his hat gone. I wanted to speak, but I knew it was useless—the shrieking of the air as it roared past us deadened all sounds. Once or twice I glanced over the side of the trap. The rapidity with which we were moving caused a hideous delusion—the ground appeared to be gliding from beneath us; and I experienced the sensation of resting on nothing. Despite our danger, however, from natural causes—a danger which, I knew, could not have been more acute—my fears were wholly of the superphysical. It was not the horror of being dashed to pieces I dreaded—it was the horror of the phantom horse—of its sinister, hostile appearance—of its unknown powers. What would it do if it overtook us? With each successive breath I drew I felt sure the fateful event—the long-anticipated crisis—had come.
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« Reply #122 on: November 01, 2009, 02:34:33 am »

At last my expectations were realized. The teeth of the gigantic steed closed down on me, its nostrils hissed resistance out of me—I swerved, tottered, fell; and as I sank on the ground my senses left me.

On coming to I found myself in a propped-up position on the floor of a tiny room with someone pouring brandy down my throat. Happily, beyond a severe shock, I had sustained no injury—a sufficiently miraculous circumstance, as the trap had come to grief in failing to clear the lodge gates, the horse had skinned its knees, and the Colonel had fractured his shoulder. Of the phantom horse not a glimpse had been seen. Even the Colonel, strange to relate, though he had managed to peep round, had not seen it. He had heard and felt a Presence, that was all; and after listening to my experience, he owned he was truly thankful he was only clair-audient.

"A gift like yours," he said, with more candour than kindness, "is a curse, not a blessing. And now I have your corroboration, I might as well tell you that we have long suspected the ghost to be a horse, and have attributed its hauntings to the fact that, some time ago, when exploring in the cave, several prehistoric remains of horses were found, one of which we kept, whilst we presented the others to a neighbouring museum. I dare say there are heaps more."

"Undoubtedly there are," I said, "but take my advice and leave them alone—re-inter the remains you have already unearthed—and thus put a stop to the hauntings. If you go on excavating and keep the bones you find, the disturbances will, in all probability, increase, and the hauntings will become not only many but multiform."
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« Reply #123 on: November 01, 2009, 02:34:59 am »

Needless to say the Colonel carried out my injunctions to the letter. Far from continuing his work of excavation he lost no time in restoring the bones he had kept to their original resting-place; after which, as I predicted, the hauntings ceased.

This case, to me, is very satisfactory, as it testifies to what was unquestionably an actual phantasm of the dead—of a dead horse—albeit that horse was prehistoric; and such horses are all the more likely to be earth-bound on account of their wild, untamed natures.

Here is another account of a phantom horse taken from Mr. Stead's Real Ghost Stories. It is written by an Afrikander who, in a letter to Mr. Stead, says:

"I am not a believer in ghosts, nor never was; but seeing you wanted a census of them, I can't help giving you a remarkable experience of mine. It was some three summers back, and I was out with a party of Boer hunters. We had crossed the Northern boundary of the Transvaal, and were camped on the ridges of the Sembombo. I had been out from sunrise, and was returning about dusk with the skin of a fine black ostrich thrown across the saddle in front of me, in the best of spirits at my good luck. Making straight for the camp, I had hardly entered a thick bush when I thought that I heard somebody behind me. Looking behind, I saw a man mounted on a white horse. You can imagine my surprise, for my horse was the only one in camp, and we were the only party in the country. Without considering I quickened my pace into a canter, and on doing so my follower appeared to do the same. At this I lost all confidence, and made a run for it, with my follower in hot pursuit, as it appeared to my imagination; and I did race for it (the skin went flying in about two minutes, and my rifle would have done the same had it not been strapped over my shoulders). This I kept up until I rode into camp right among the pals cooking the evening meal. The Boers about the camp were quick in their enquiries as to my distressed condition, and regaining confidence, I was putting them off as best I could, when the old boss (an old Boer of some sixty-eight or seventy years), looking up from the fire, said:
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« Reply #124 on: November 01, 2009, 02:35:14 am »

"'The white horse! The Englishman has seen the white horse.'

"This I denied, but to no purpose. And that night round the camp fire I took the trouble to make enquiries as to the antecedents of the white horse. And the old Boer, after he had commanded silence, began. He said:

"'The English are not brave, but foolish. We beat them at Majuba, some twenty-five seasons back. There was an Englishman here like you; he had brought a horse with him, against our advice, to be killed with the fly, the same as yours will be in a day or two. And he, like you, would go where he was told not to go; and one day he went into a bush (that very bush you rode through to-night), and he shot seven elephants, and the next day he went in to fetch the ivory, and about night his horse came into camp riderless, and was dead from the fly before the sun went down. The Englishman is in that bush now; anyway, he never came back. And now anybody who ventures into that bush is chased by the white horse. I wouldn't go into that bush for all the ivory in the land. The English are not brave, but foolish; we beat them at Majuba.'

"Here he ran into a torrent of abuse of all Englishmen in general, and in particular. And I took the opportunity of rolling myself up in my blankets for the night, sleeping all the better for my adventure.

"Now, Mr. Stead, I don't believe in ghosts, but I was firmly convinced during that run of mine, and can vouch for the accuracy of it, not having heard a word of the Englishman or his white horse before my headlong return to the camp that night. I shortly hope to be near that bush again, but, like the old Boer, I can say I wouldn't go into that bush again for all the ivory in the land.
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« Reply #125 on: November 01, 2009, 02:35:48 am »

"P.S.—A few days after we dropped across a troop of elephants without entering the fatal bush, and managed to bag seven, photographs of which I took, and shall be pleased to send for your inspection, if desired."

There can be very little doubt that the phantom the Afrikander saw was the actual spirit of a dead horse.

Another experience of haunting by the same animal was told me by a Chelsea artist who assured me it was absolutely true. I append it as nearly as possible in his own words.
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« Reply #126 on: November 01, 2009, 02:36:10 am »

Heralds of Death

"It is many years ago," he began, "since I came into my property, Heatherleigh Hall, near Carlisle, Cumberland. It was left me by my great-uncle, General Wimpole, whom I had never seen, but who had made me his heir in preference to his other nephews, owing to my reputed likeness to an aunt, to whom he was greatly attached. Of course I was much envied, and I dare say a good many unkind things were said about me, but I did not care—Heatherleigh Hall was mine, and I had as much right to it as anyone else. I came there all alone—my two brothers, Dick and Hal, the one a soldier and the other a sailor, were both away on foreign service, whilst Beryl, my one and only sister, was staying with her fiancé's family in Bath. Never shall I forget my first impressions. Depict the day—an October afternoon. The air mellow, the leaves yellow, and the sun a golden red. Not a trace of clouds or wind anywhere. Everything serene and still. A broad highway; a wood; a lodge in the midst of the wood; large iron gates; a broad carriage drive, planted on either side with lofty pines and elms, whose gnarled and forked branches threw grotesque and not altogether pleasing shadows on the pale gravel.

"At the end of the avenue, at least a quarter of a mile long, wide expanses of soft, velvety grass, interspersed at regular intervals with plots of flowers—dahlias, michaelmas daisies—no longer in their first bloom—chrysanthemums, etc. Beyond the lawn, the house, and beyond that again, and on either side, big, old-fashioned gardens full of fruit—fruit of all kinds, some, such as grapes and peaches, in monster green-houses, and others—luscious pears, blenheim oranges, golden pippins, etc.—in rich profusion in the open, the whole encompassed by a high and solid brick wall, topped with a bed of mortar and broken glass. The house, which was built, or, rather, faced with split flints, and edged and buttressed with cut grey stone, had a majestic but gloomy appearance. Its front, lofty and handsome, was somewhat castellated in style, two semicircular bows, or half-moons, placed at a suitable distance from each other, rising from the base to the summit of the edifice; these were pierced, at every floor, with rows of stone-mullioned windows, rising to the height of four or five stories. The flat wall between had larger windows, lighting the great hall, gallery, and upper apartments. These windows were abundantly ornamented with stained glass, representing the arms, honours, and alms-deeds of the Wimpole family.
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« Reply #127 on: November 01, 2009, 02:36:25 am »

"The towers, half included in the building, were completely circular within, and contained the winding stair of the mansion; and whoso ascended them, when the winter wind was blowing, seemed rising by a tornado to the clouds. Midway between the towers was a heavy stone porch, with a Gothic gateway, surmounted by a battlemented parapet, made gable fashion, the apex of which was garnished by a pair of dolphins, rampant and antagonistic, whose corkscrew tails seemed contorted by the last agonies of rage convulsed.

"The porch doors thrown open to receive me, led into a hall, wide, vaulted and lofty, and decorated here and there with remnants of tapestry and grim portraits of the Wimpoles. One picture in particular riveted my attention. Hung in an obscure corner, where the light rarely penetrated, it represented the head and shoulders of a young man with a strikingly beautiful face—the features small and regular like those of a woman—the hair yellow and curly. It was the eyes that struck me most—they followed me everywhere I went with a persistency that was positively alarming. There was something in them I had never seen in canvas eyes before, something deeper and infinitely more intricate than could be produced by mere paint—something human and yet not human, friendly and yet not friendly; something baffling, enigmatical, haunting. I enquired of my deceased relative's aged housekeeper, Mrs. Grimstone—whom I had retained—whose portrait it was, and she replied with a scared look, 'Horace, youngest son of Sir Algernon Wimpole, who died here in 1745.'

"'The face fascinates me,' I said. 'Is there any history attached to it?'

"'Why, yes, sir!' she responded, her eyes fixed on the floor, 'but the late master never liked referring to it.'
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« Reply #128 on: November 01, 2009, 02:36:52 am »

"'Is it as bad as that?' I said, laughing. 'Tell me!'

"'Well, sir,' she began, 'they do say as how Sir Algernon, who was a thorough country squire—very fond of hunting and shooting and all sorts of manly exercises—never liked Mr. Horace, who was delicate and dandified—what the folk in those days used to style a macaroni. The climax came when Mr. Horace took up with the Jacobites. Sir Algernon would have nothing more to do with him then and turned him adrift. One day there was a great commotion in the neighbourhood, the Government troops were hunting the place in search of rebels, and who should come galloping up the avenue with a couple of troopers in hot pursuit but Mr. Horace. The noise brought out Sir Algernon, and he was so infuriated to think that his son was the cause of the disturbance, a "disgraceful young cub," he called him, that despite Mr. Horace's entreaties for protection, he ran him through with his sword. It was a dreadful thing for a father to do, and Sir Algernon bitterly repented it. His wife, who had been devoted to Mr. Horace, left him, and at last, in a fit of despondency, he hanged himself—out there, on one of the elms lining the avenue. It is still standing. Ever since then they do say that the wood is haunted, and that before the death of any member of the family Mr. Horace is seen galloping along the old carriage drive.'

"'Pleasant,' I grunted. 'And how about the house—is it haunted too?'

"'I daresn't say,' she murmured. 'Some will tell you it is, and some will tell you it isn't.'

"'In which category are you included?' I asked.

"'Well!' she said 'I have lived here happy and comfortable forty-five years the day after to-morrow, and that speaks for itself, don't it?' And with that she hobbled off and showed me the way to the dining-room.
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« Reply #129 on: November 01, 2009, 02:37:19 am »

"What a house it was! From the hall proceeded doorways and passages, more than the ordinary memory could retain. Of these portals, one at each end conducted to the tower stairs, others, to the reception-rooms and domestic offices. In the right wing, besides bedrooms galore, was a lofty and spacious picture gallery; in the left—a chapel; for the Wimpoles were, formerly, Roman Catholics. The general fittings and furniture, both of the hall and house in general, were substantial, venerable and strongly corroborative of what Mrs. Grimstone hinted at—they suggested ghosts.

"The walls, lined with black oak panels, or dark hangings that fluttered mysteriously each time the wind blew, were funereal indeed; and so high and narrow were the windows, that little was to be discerned through them but cross-barred portions of the sky. One spot in particular appealed to my nerves—and that, a long, vaulted stone passage leading from a morning room to the foot of the back staircase. Here the voice and even the footsteps echoed with a hollow, low response, and often when I have been hurrying along it—I never dared walk slowly—I have fancied—and maybe it was more than fancy—I have been pursued.

"Time passed, and from being merely used to my new environments, I grew to take a pride in them, to love them. I made the acquaintance of several of my neighbours, those I deemed the most desirable, and on returning from wintering abroad, brought home a bride, a young Polish girl, who added lustre to the surroundings, and in no small degree helped to dissipate the gloom. Indeed, had it not been for the picture in the hall, and for the twilight shadows and twilight footsteps in the stone passage, I should soon have ceased to think of ghosts. Ghosts, forsooth! When all around me vibrated with the sounds of girlish laughter, and the summer sunshine, sparkling on the golden curls of my child-wife, saw itself reflected a millionfold in the alluring depths of her azure eyes. In halcyon days like these who thinks of ghosts and death?
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« Reply #130 on: November 01, 2009, 02:37:36 am »

"And yet! It is in just such times as these that hell is nearest. There came a night in August when the air was so hot and sultry that I could scarcely breathe, and unable to bear the atmosphere of the house and gardens any longer, I sought the coolness of the wood. Olga—my wife—did not accompany me, as she was suffering from a slight—thank God, it was only slight—sunstroke. It was close on midnight, and there was a dead stillness abroad that seemed as if it must be universal—as if it enveloped the whole of nature. I tried to realize London—to depict the Strand and Piccadilly, aglow with artificial light and reverberating with the roll of countless traffic and the tread of millions of feet.

"I failed. The incongruity of such imaginings here—here amidst omnipotent silence—rendered such thoughts impossible. A leaf rustled, and its rustling sounded to my ears like the gentle closing of some giant door. A twig fell, and I turned sharply round, convinced I should see a pile of broken debris. I love all trees, but I love them best by day—to me it seems that night utterly metamorphizes them—brings out in them a subtler, darker side one would little suspect. Here, in this oak, for instance, was an example. In the morning one sees in it nought but quiet dignity, venerable old age, benevolence, and, by reason of the ample protection its branches afford from the sun, charity and philanthropy. Its leaves are bright, dainty, pretty; its trunk suggests nothing but a cosy and soothing retreat for students and lovers. But now—see how different! These great spreading, gnarled branches are hands, claws—monstrous and menacing; those leaves no longer bright remind me of a hearse's plumes; their rustling—of the rustling and switching of a pall or winding-sheet. The trunk, black, sinuous, towering, is assuredly no piece of timber, but something pulpy, something intangible, something antagonistic, mystic, devilish. I turn from it and shudder. Then my mind reverts to the elm—the elm on which Sir Algernon hanged himself. I remember it is not more than twenty yards from where I stand. I stare down at the soil, at the clumps of crested dog's-tail and stray blades of succulent darnel; I force my attention on a toadstool, whose soft and lowly head gleams sickly white in the moonbeams. I glance from it to a sleeping close-capped dandelion, from it to a thistle, from it again to a late bush vetch, and then, willy-nilly, to the accursed elm. My God! What a change. It wasn't like that when I passed it at noon. It was just an ordinary tree then, but now, now—and what is that—that sinister bundle—suspended from one of its curling branches? A cold sweat bursts out on me, my knees tremble, my hair begins to rise on end. Swinging round, I am about to rush away—blindly rush away—hither, thither, anywhere—anywhere out of sight of that tree and of all the hideous possibilities it promises to materialize for me. I have not taken five strides, however, before I am pulled sharply up by the sounds of horse's hoofs—of hoofs on the hard gravel, away in the distance. They speedily grow nearer. A horse is galloping, galloping towards me along the broad carriage drive. Nearer, nearer and nearer it comes! Who is it? What is it? A deadly nausea seizes me, I swerve, totter, reel, and am only prevented from falling by the timely interference of a pine. The concussion with its leviathan trunk clears my senses. All my faculties become wonderfully and painfully alert. I would give my very soul if it were not so—if I could but fall asleep or faint. The sound of the hoofs is very much nearer now, so near indeed that I may see the man—Heaven grant it may be only a man after all—any moment. Ah! my heart gives a great sickly jerk. Something has shot into view. There, not fifty yards from me, where the road curves, and the break in the foliage overhead admits a great flood of moonlight. I recognize the "thing" at once; it's not a man, it's nothing human, it's the picture I know so well and dread so much, the portrait of Horace Wimpole, that hangs in the main hall—and it's mounted on a coal-black horse with wildly flying mane and foaming mouth. On and on they come, thud, thud, thud! The man is not dressed as a rider, but is wearing the costume in the picture—i.e. that of a macaroni! A nut! More fit for a lady's seminary than a fine, old English mansion.
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« Reply #131 on: November 01, 2009, 02:37:48 am »

"Something beside me rustles—rustles angrily, and I know, I can feel, it is the bundle on the branch—the ghastly, groaning, creaking, croaking caricature of Sir Algernon. The horseman comes up to me—our eyes meet—I am looking in those of a dead—of a long since dead man—my blood freezes.

"He flashes past me—thud, thud, thud! A bend in the road, and he vanishes from sight. But I can still hear him, still hear the mad patter of his horse's hoofs as they bear him onward, lifeless, fleshless, weightless, to his ancient home. God pity the souls that know no rest.

"How I got back to the house I hardly know. I believe it was with my eyes shut, and I am certain I ran all the way.

"About four o'clock the following afternoon I received a cablegram from Malta. Intuition warned me to prepare for the worst. Its contents were unpleasantly short and pithy—'Hal drowned at two o'clock this morning.—Dick.'

"Two years passed—again an August night, hot and oppressive as before, and again—though surely against my will, my better judgment, if you like—I visited the wood. Horse's hoofs just the same as before. The same galloping, the same figure, the same eyes! the same mad, panic-stricken flight home, and, early in the succeeding afternoon, a similar cablegram—this time from Sicily. 'Dick died at midnight. Dysentery.—Andrews.'
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« Reply #132 on: November 01, 2009, 02:38:06 am »

"Jack Andrews was Dick's pal—his bosom friend. So once again the phantom rider had brought its grisly message—played its ghoulish rôle. My brothers were both dead now, and only Beryl remained. Another year sped by and the last night in October—a Monday—saw me, impelled by a fascination I could not resist, once again in the wood. Up to a point everything happened as before. As the monotonous church clock struck twelve, from afar came the sound of hoofs. Nearer, nearer, nearer, and then with startling abruptness the rider shot into view. And now, mixed with the awful, indescribable terror the figure always conveyed with it, came a feeling of intense rage and indignation. Should Beryl—Beryl whom I loved next best to my wife—be torn from me even as Dick and Hal had been? No! Ten thousand times no! Sooner than that I would risk anything. A sudden inspiration, coming maybe from the whispering leaves, or from the elm, or from the mysterious flickering moonbeams, flashed through me. Could I not intercept the figures, drive them back? By doing so something told me Beryl might be saved. A terrible struggle at once took place within me, and it was only after the most desperate efforts that I at length succeeded in fighting back my terror and flung myself out into the middle of the drive. No words of mine can describe all I went through as I stood there anticipating the arrival of the phantoms. At length they came, right up to me; and as, with frantic resolution, I screwed up courage to plant myself directly in their path, and stared up into the rider's eyes, the huge steed halted, gave one shrill neigh, and turning round, galloped back again, disappearing whither it had emerged.

"Two days afterwards I received a letter from my brother-in-law.

"'I have been having an awful time,' he wrote. 'My darling Beryl has been frightfully ill. On Monday night we gave up all hope of her recovery, but at twelve o'clock, when the doctor bid us prepare for the end, the most extraordinary thing happened. Turning over in bed, she distinctly called out your name, and rallied. And now, thank God, she is completely out of danger. The doctor says it is the most astonishing recovery he has ever known.'
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« Reply #133 on: November 01, 2009, 02:38:23 am »

"That is twenty years ago, and I've not seen the phantom rider since. Nor do I fancy he will appear again, for when I look into the eyes of the picture in the hall, they are no longer wandering, but at rest."

Perhaps, one of the most interesting accounts of the phantasm of a horse in my possession is that recorded by C.E. G——, a friend of my boyhood. Writing to me from the United States some months ago, he says:
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« Reply #134 on: November 01, 2009, 02:38:42 am »

"Knowing how interested you are in all cases of hauntings, and in those relating to animal ghosts especially, I am sending you an account of an 'experience' that happened to my uncle, Mr. John Dale, about six months ago. He was returning to his home in Bishopstone, near Helena, Montana, shortly after dark, and had arrived at a particularly lonely part of the road where the trees almost meet overhead, when his horse showed signs of restlessness. It slackened down, halted, shivered, whinnied, and kept up such a series of antics, that my uncle descended from the trap to see if anything was wrong with it. He thought that, perhaps, it was going to have some kind of fit, or an attack of ague, which is not an uncommon complaint among animals in his part of the country, and he was preparing to give it a dose of quinine, when suddenly it reared up violently, and before he could stop it, was careering along the road at lightning speed. My uncle was now in a pretty mess. He was stranded in a forest without a lantern, ten miles, at least, from home. Feeling too depressed to do anything, he sat down by the roadside, and seriously thought of remaining there till daybreak. A twinge of rheumatism, however, reminded him the ground was little warmer than ice, and made him realize that lying on it would be courting death. Consequently, he got up, and setting his lips grimly, struck out in the direction of Bishopstone. At every step he took the track grew darker. Shadows of trees and countless other things, for which he could see no counterpart, crept out and rendered it almost impossible for him to tell where to tread. A peculiar, indefinable dread also began to make itself felt, and the darkness seemed to him to assume an entirely new character. He plodded on, breaking into a jog-trot every now and then, and whistling by way of companionship. The stillness was sepulchral—he strained his ears, but could not even catch the sound of those tiny animals that are usually heard in the thickets and furze-bushes at night; and all his movements were exaggerated, until their echoes seemed to reverberate through the whole forest. A turn of the road brought him into view of something that made his heart throb with delight. Standing by the wayside was an enormous coach with four huge horses pawing the ground impatiently. My uncle rushed up to the driver, who was so enveloped in wraps, he could not see his face, and in a voice trembling with emotion begged for the favour of a lift—if not to Helena itself, as far in that direction as the coach was going. The driver made no reply, but with his hand motioned my uncle to get in. The latter did not need a second bidding, and the moment he was seated, the vehicle started off. It was a large, roomy conveyance, but had a stifling atmosphere about it that struck my uncle as most unpleasant; and although he could see no one, he intuitively felt he was not alone, and that more than one pair of eyes were watching him.
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